The core musculature (CM) is critical for the overall functioning of the body. It is important for stabilization and works in tandem with the back musculature. This is significant for moving objects or keeping them stationary, especially when the movement requires higher degrees of exertion. Lifting a heavy box, opening or closing a stubborn steering wheel shaped valve handle, walking and controlling a big dog – these are some of the instances where core stabilization is required. Without adequate core strength and stabilization, the back muscles will pull double duty and may, at best, incur strain.
The CM is not the abdominals, exclusively. They connect the actions of the upper body such that movements occur in synchronicity with a stable base. The abdominals are a part of the complex that comprises the core.
The core muscles consist of
Stabilizers: holds the internal organs in place and braces the spine by establishing intraabdonminal pressure
- Transverse abdominis
- Internal obliques
- Lumbar multifidus
- Pelvic floor muscles
Movers: important for lifting, twisting, reaching overhead (especially under load)
- Rectus abdominis (am)
- External obliques (am)
- Erector spinae (pm)
- Latissimus dorsi (pm)
- Hamstrings (pm)
- Hip adductors
- Hip abductors
The diagram illustrates the muscles that act on the pelvis. They position the pelvis for optimal engagement of the back musculature. This is to say that with the stabilizers being engaged, the anterior movers (muscles in the front of the body) can lift on the front of the pelvis and allow the posterior movers (muscles in the back of the body) to function in the manner for which they were designed.
Overcoming resistance require optimal core stabilization. Moving heavy items, for short periods of time, and over short distances, is sometimes necessary. Stabilization must take place before these lifts or movements can be initiated.
If the stabilizers do not properly engage, the anterior movers will become compromised and the posterior movers will bear the brunt of the work. Back strains, then, are as much of, if not more than a consequence of weak core and improper core engagement than of exclusively weak back muscles.
So then, core exercise must encompass more than just sit-ups and crunches. In truth. Sit ups encourage movement that does not (actually) support the designed action of the am musculature. They do strengthen the rectus abdominus and the obliques. However, the designed action of the rectus is to lift the front of the pelvis (pubis bone) in synchronization with stabilizer engagement. Training the core must include stabilizer engagement along with lower rectus abdominus activation.
The displayed videos are examples of ways in which the stabilizers can be activated. Any of these exercises can be included in a abdominal workout regimen. The key is to establish the proper sequencing of the core. Thereby, minimizing the risks for strain. The core is important for everyday activities. One can improvise throughout the course of the day and create their own little sequences of activating the core.